Tuesday, July 31, 2012

MTC Letter #6

Hello Family!
Wow, how the weeks fly here. I can't believe I only have 3 weeks left until I leave for Poland! I'm nowhere near ready to go yet. There's so much learning I have to do. Now it's really crunch time. There's lots of work left to do.
Hannah, Elder Garfield loved the goo. Thanks so much for making it for him and for me! It's always so much fun to get a package from home. Mom, nice work with the Dutch Caramel Waffles. Definitely a good send. The juice boxes as well. I'm a big fan.
Dad, thanks so much for the hints about the Atonement. I'm really trying to understand it and go into more depth. Your hints have really helped. I'm learning to really love Paul. That scripture in 2 Cor. 12:9-10 is a new favorite of mine. I feel like Paul is quite similar to Alma and the Sons of Mosiah. They both had life changing experiences that turned them into some of the best missionaries the world has ever seen. I'm excited to go into more depth with Paul's teaching and really learn what he has to say. Any ideas on where to start? I'm just a big fan of the whole New Testament in general. Bro. Stice shared a great scripture yesterday with us. Philemon 1:20-21. I want to be known that well for my obedience, that people will know that I will do more than what they say, not just what they ask. By the way, it is Jim Stice. Did I mention that the principal of Freedom Elementary is the other counselor of my Branch Presidency? Anyway, between Bro. Stice and Bro. Melville, they're both really stretching me with gospel principles and obedience. I love it.
I didn't have time to write Grandma Honey and Grandpa Ted today, but send them my love. I will try to write them next week. Sounds like things are very interesting as always over there at Honeyland.
Emma and Heather, I loved both of your talks. They were great. I loved the way you both used experiences to get your points across. I'm trying to share experiences in my lessons in Polish, but it's hard. Between casing adjectives and nouns and putting verbs into past tense, not even mentioning knowing the vocabulary, it's a real test of my knowledge. I'm working hard though.
Mom, I didn't get your letter about the James scandal and Uncle Rick until Monday after I sent my email. Dear Elder was just a little behind on their letters for some reason. Elder Godwin ended up with 21 letters that day, a bunch of them repeats. Still though, 21 was the best haul we'd ever seen, and we're regular old veterans by now. I was very sad to hear about Rick. I'm praying for him! I've got confidence in him. Please, keep me updated on what's happening with him though.  I hear Dad is in London. 
Speaking of England, what's going on with the Olympics? Not that I'm supposed to focus on sports while I'm here on the mission, but can you give me any sort of an update on track and field? Like who wins the 100, 200, and the 400? I'd love to see Tyson Gay upset Usain Bolt in the 100 or the 200.
So on Thursday nights we teach something called TRC. I can't exactly remember what it stands for, but we teach returned Polish missionaries. Anyway, one of the people Elder Garfield and I taught was named Will Plumb. He told us we were really coming along in our Polish and doing quite well teaching together. Apart from that, we asked him about Polish grammar and how Polish compares to other languages. He said that he took Japanese for a while and that Polish was lots harder.  He also said that Polish grammar is comparable to Finnish, which is maybe the hardest language to learn. So, basically we're learning one of the hardest languages in the world and we only have 9 weeks to do it, but I'm up for the challenge! Mom, thanks a bunch for the updates on my buddies. I loved that. If you could send those every week I'd really appreciate it. Updates from Elder Kyle Anderson and Aaron Walters would be awesome too if you could get anything from them, thanks!
For music, just an IPOD with speakers will be great. Just a few requests for music, if you can get the MoTab "Come, Come Ye Saints" CD on there, that would be great. Basically, all the MoTab would be great. Plus, O Divine Redeemer, O My Father, and even This Is The Christ would be wonderful if you can get those on there. They don't have to be from anyone in particular. I think Sarah Judd also wanted to put a CD of her favorites on there before you sent it. Heath, if you can make sure she gets that CD to you before you send it, that would be great, thanks!
Mom and Dad, good luck on the ULCER! I know you can do it. Work hard. As good ol' Coach Bryson would say, "If you start too hard, finish harder."
I love the updates on everything going on at home. How was the cabin? I hope everyone had fun on the boat. I'm sad I couldn't be there, but I definitely have more important things to do.
I got to go to the temple again today! I loved it. Such an awesome experience. The temple is such a holy place. Revelation is abundant there. I went with a question about D&C 84:20-21. I was looking for how the "power of godliness" was manifest in the ordinance. I got an answer, but I believe it is very basic compared to what it could be. Dad, any ideas on how the "power of godliness" is manifest in all the other ordinances? Some help would be much appreciated on this doctrinal subject.
So, I've joined the MTC Choir! I know, I'm not much of a singer, but I figured I'd give it a shot. It's actually quite fun, and I'm not half bad at plucking out a base line. We're singing "Faith of Our Fathers" tomorrow. I'm excited.
Everything is blending together here. I can't tell yesterday from today, last week from the weeks before, and so on. It's awesome though. I'm learning so much. A quote from the devotionals really struck me last night. Robert P. Swensen spoke to us. He's a big whig in the MTC world I guess. He said, "If you can't change it, love it." He was speaking about the conditions around you. When it's hot, love it. When it's cold, love it. If no one will listen to you, love it. You can't change it, so just make the best of it. It's a great attitude to have and one I definitely want to implement.
Last tuesday, we heard from Gary J. Coleman, and emeritus seventy. He was a very powerful speaker. He talked about the consistent message from Christ throughout the scritpures, which was "Come unto Me." Whether it was Peter on the stormy sea, the apostles in John 1:39, or to us today, His mesasge is still "Come." That's when it hit me, Christ is the perfect missionary. Ok, that sounds bad that I didn't know that before, but I guess that is when I really internalized it. Christ never teaches without inviting, or rather giving a commitment. He doesn't mince words. He's bold, but not overbearing. Everything I need to be is put forth by His character. It's a powerful example to follow. I'm striving to do my best.
I love you all. Heather and Emma, stay out of trouble. Heather, yes you are interesting, but stubborn as well. Don't make me come home and stop you from reading Emma's mail. Yeah, love you too ;). I'm glad you're learning the importance of good friends. Always remember that.
Emms, keep working hard. Study the scriptures. They've really opened up to me while I've been on the mission. I know they can do the same for you if you really strive to learn from them. Pray for the Spirit and I know He will help you.
Hannah-Bear! Are you listening to the Spirit? I'm glad my longboard is safe. Keep rollerblading! We'll do it a lot when I get home.
Mom, you're the best. I'm constantly striving to be the missionary I know you want and expect me to be.
Dad, I couldn't do it without you. Thanks for being a strong base for me to rely on. I don't know what I'd do without the doctrinal base you gave me and the constant help on all my questions.
I love you all. Keep praying for me! You're all in my prayers. The Gospel is true!
With lots of love,
Elder Vernon

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

MTC Letter #5

Hey Family!
How are we doing? The MTC is so great. I've passed the halfway point! I'm excited, but it's sad to see it go. I'm working my hardest every day. The Polish is coming along really well. I'm teaching quite often now without any notes, just speaking whatever comes to my mind. I'm frustrated that I can't speak more yet, but I have to remember I've only been learning for just over a month now and to be patient with myself. I love the Spirit of work that is here at the MTC. Mom and Dad, thank you so much for teaching me how to work hard. It is paying off immensely.
Guess what? One of our practice investigators, Paweł, is committed for baptism! I know it's not a real investigator, but it's still really exciting. He's really growing and coming along with our lessons. We're teaching him again tomorrow. He has issues with smoking, so we're working through that right now. Our other investigator, Ola, knows she needs to get baptized and understands the importance of baptism, but won't set a date. It's frustrating, but we're working with her and teaching her all the commandments at the moment. It's so cool to watch these people grow, even if they are just role-plays. It's amazing to feel the Spirit of missionary work. I really believe it's stronger than any other Spirit I've felt. The Lord wants His work to go forward and will help us to push it forward in any way He can.
I've been doing a bit of memorizing in Polish. I can now recite the First Vision, and the first four articles of faith, all in Polish. It's so awesome. I've even shared one of those articles of faith in a lesson. I love being able to memorize these and recite them. An interesting tidbit, however, is that at first, I can never recite them quickly, but I can memorize them quickly. I don't quite know why. It doesn't make sense that I could keep that all in my head and have to do it so slowly. I really feel that the Lord is helping with it through the Gift of Tongues. I just don't see any other explanation for it.
It's amazing how much being on a mission has opened up the Gospel to my mind. In reality, this is a very simple message we have to share. We want happiness for the whole world and we know the pathway to lasting happiness. That's such a hard thing to come by these days, but a very important part of our lives. Too many people focus far too much on the things of the world. A quote I heard this week from Elder Holland fits this scenario perfectly: "We spend too much of our lives acting as if we will stay here, when in reality we can't, we aren't, and we won't." I've been thinking a lot about that quote. It's changed my perspective on a lot of things.
Along with that simplicity of the gospel comes a complexity that is so cool. I love all the symbolism, connections, and doctrine that is found everywhere: the Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, the Temple, and many other places. It's fantastic. My study has really opened up my eyes to everything that can be found in the scriptures. What a neat thing to have so much time set apart to just learn. I absolutely love it.
For our firesides this week, we had two amazing speakers. On Tuesday, we had Elder Vaughan J. Featherstone. What a champ. He had knee surgery about two weeks prior and he still came and spoke to us. He emphasized work a lot in his speech. Dad, thank you for having me read your missionary journals. It taught me so much about how to work and how to do it correctly. It was so awesome to see your transformation on your mission. I just hope I can have the same sort of thing happen to me. A few quotes from Elder Featherstone's talk and some comments from our District Review really sum up what I learned well I think.
"Work will win when wishy washy wishing won't." -Pres. Monson
"When revelation comes, it will always come as a conclusion." -Pres. Packer
"No other talent exceeds spirituality." -Bruce R. McConkie
"God is not hasty. He plans ahead." -Bro. Stice (1st counselor in my Branch Presidency. Works at the business school. Do you know him dad?)
"Courage in faith is courage in progress. Never stop going, never stop working." -Elder Featherstone
It was so incredible. Last night we had another great fireside from Elder Steven B. Allen. With the 24th tomorrow, he talked all about the pioneers and music. We listened to "Come, Come Ye Saints" sung by the Mo-Tab on a recording. It's from a CD of theirs. When you send me my music, could you include that one on there please? Maybe that whole CD? That'd be great. Thanks. The whole fireside really strengthened my testimony of music and the strength it provides. Music can teach us so much about Christ, it's amazing. A new hymn I found that I have come to love is number 269. It's called "Jehovah, Lord of Heaven and Earth." It's very powerful. Go listen to it and tell me what you think.
Dad, a few questions. Where is it that Paul says "When I am weak, then I am strong"? I've heard the reference a few times but can't quite find it yet. I've been focusing a lot on being humble so the Lord can shape me into the tool he needs me to be. It's hard to realize that I don't know everything and that I can't do it on my own. I think that's why missionary work has to be so hard. We have to rely on the Lord for help. In reality, we can't preach this message alone or convince anyone of its truth without the help of the Lord and the Holy Ghost. That's the reason why the Lord chose a 14 year old farm boy to restore His church. It allowed the Lord to mold that prophet into who He really needed Him to be. Joseph wouldn't have ever amounted to anything without this gospel. JS-H 1:23 has given me a lot of insight into this very subject.
So, in other news, we got to go on a field trip today. My companion needed his pants altered, so we got to go to Mr. Mac for about a half hour. It wasn't anything big, but it was nice to get off campus for a bit.
Mom, your package didn't make it. I got the socks and Emma's letter, but they stole my Cafe Rio from me. Something about it not being safe or something. I think they just smelled it and wanted to eat it. Sorry about that. I was pretty bummed to not get it.
I'm glad everyone liked the pictures. Emma, a Jedi never reveals how he makes his lightsaber, but I'll show you in a couple years when I get home.
I got a chance to talk to Elder Frandsen for a while last night. He's doing great. He's excited to get to France and start spreading the word.
Elder Walters has been assigned to an island called Chuuk, speaking Chuukese. Basically, it's like The Other Side of Heaven, or so I've heard. Big shout out to Chloe for the update. Thanks Chlo!
I want to hear these talks from Emma and Heather from Sacrament meeting. I'm sure they were great!
Mom, I love you. Your frequent letters are such a source of strength. Keep diving into those scriptures and feasting upon the word.
Dad, two things. Actually three. I still want to hear about your converts. Also, go look up LaVell Edwards' talk from the October session of Conference in 1984 and read it. Pretty cool huh? Thirdly, tell James to look up Jeremiah 4:19-20 and tell him that's what the food is doing to me here. Yeah, 'nuff said.
I was sad to hear about Stephen Covey, but he must have work to do on the other side. Give Sean and his family my condolences. Thanks for the heads up on the pants Mom. I really appreciate it.
I'm running out of time. I love you all, I'm learning so much, and I'm relying on the Lord in all I do. Know that I'm committed to this work. I'm going to give everything I have every day I'm out here. It's not fair to myself or the Lord to do anything less. I love this work, I love this gospel, and I love the Lord. That's what's most important in life.
Until next Poniedziałek!
Starszy Vernon
P.S. Heath, any new mission calls? I want to know where Coray is going and Taylor Lindsey too. If you can find out, plese let me know.
P.P.S. Emms, did you get the boat out yet? Please say yes.
P.P.P.S. Hannah, give Grandma Honey a love for me and tell her thanks for the package. Also give one to Grandma Fernie and Grandma Helen and tell them thanks so much for the letters. I loved hearing from them!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

MTC Pictures

Elder Walters (Guam) and Elder Vernon
Elder Garfield and Elder Vernon (MTC Companions)
Elder Vernon and Elder Wilson
Polish Missionaries
Elder Hall (Japan) and Elder Vernon

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

MTC Letter #4

Dzien Dobry family!
I'm loving the MTC. I'm realizing I never have enough time to do what I want to here. It's crazy. I will try though to write all I can in the time allotted.
Tell Matt hello and that I hope he's doing well. I still haven't heard from him. If he's making the effort to visit you and not say anything to me, well, I'm wondering who he likes better, me or you guys. (Only joking, but a letter would still be nice)
Mom, to answer your questions.
1. The razor burn is doing just fine. It's a lot better now. The anti-bump stuff is working wonders. I'm also finding if I only shave my lower neck every other day it helps a lot. It doesn't grow fast enough to need to be shaved every day, so I just do it every other, and that's helped a lot.
2. I usually get packages around 6. I just pick them up after dinner. I'm no longer the district leader (three weeks is how long we serve here), so I no longer pick up mail. That being the case, times may change or shift a bit on mail, but 6 is pretty standard.
3. I really like the watch. I actually fixed the band on my old one by myself, and I sent it to BYU to get the back put on the face. That way, I'll have two watches. I don't have it back yet, but I'm expecting it soon. Thank you for the quick delivery! It was a real relief to get a watch to put back on my wrist.
The raspberry shortcakes? Ingenious mom. I'm still impressed. The cream was still cold. I'm sending back the cold pack today along with a package. In it are my compression shorts (I have yet to use them), my memory card from my camera, and a Polish Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon is for Braden Lanham. I wrote his address on a sticky note and put it on the Book of Mormon. Is there any way you can get it to him? Packages are fairly pricy here and I can't use my card, I have to use cash. I would really appreciate it if you could help me out with that one. I could also use some more white athletic socks. I didn't look very closely at the pairs I brought and they are pretty beat up. Just stick them in with the package on friday.
So, last night we heard Jenny Oaks Baker play for our devotional. She is incredible. Heather, it made me think about you. She's a violin player who got a Masters in Music from Juiliard. She's unreal good. It was so cool to hear her stories about music and to just sit back and enjoy an hour of music. I loved it. Such a strong testimony builder. Get this, she played at Stadium of Fire a couple years ago and got hit by a firework. Can you believe that? Luckily, it didn't go off and she was fine, just had a little singe on her arm. I also found out she is Dallin H. Oaks' daughter. No surprises there. I feel bad for her husband though. I would be scared out of my wits to go ask Elder Oaks for his daughter's hand in marriage. We all had a good laugh here in the district thinking about that one.
Hall-Choro (Elder Hall) is off to Tokyo as of 5 this morning. I said goodbye to him last night. He's going to be great. I'm so excited for him. He was so ready to get out of the MTC. I'm getting excited to get to Poland. I had this overwhelming wave of excitement hit me yesterday. It's sometimes hard to focus here in the MTC, but I'm doing my best. The Polish is coming along! I'm teaching without any notes and no memorized statements now. I just roll on the fly and say what I need to say. I'll admit, it's hardly ever conjugated or declinated correctly, but it's coming along! The best part is, the investigators can really understand the message I'm trying to share. It's so cool to see the Spirit really focus in on one simple topic and testify so strongly to an investigator about the truth that I'm sharing.
So, a few questions for you, family. First, dad, we were talking about staying in touch with converts and investigators a little while. We've also been talking about the impact we will have on these people's lives. It got me to thinking, are you still in touch with any of the people you brought to the Church? Do you have any stories about them? I'd love to hear all about them. Mom, the laundry has faded the creases in my pants a little bit. Any suggestions on how to bring them back? Also, any emails from my Indian friend that I met on the way back from St. Louis? His name is Daniel. I'm curious to know if he has anything to say. Also, could you send me some copies of Grandpa Leo's music? Laminated possibly? I don't want to ask for too much, but I love being able to play the piano here. That's something my companion and I have been doing in our spare time. We just find a room and play hymns. It's awesome. It's really strengthened the Spirit in our companionship and during the day.
So you wanna know about Gym Time huh? I've been spending a lot of my time playing sand volleyball. I know it's not the greatest workout, but I try to do pushups, situps, and pullups nightly to stay in shape. I've got a pretty mean spike, and it's a lot of fun. Soccer is another routine sport we play here. There's a british Elder who's pretty good, and an Elder in my district from Qatar who is good as well. I don't have great ball skills, but I'm a hustler and I try my best. It's a lot of fun. I've also played a little bit of basketball, and we even played Kickball one day. Sand Volleyball is still the game of choice though. It's a lot of fun.
Dad, I've been studying a lot about the Atonement. I watched Bruce R. McConkie's final conference talk about it yesterday. It's been really powerful to study about it and learn all I can about it. Any suggestions on more scriptures that really teach about it or that give a better understanding of it? I've been thinking a lot about Grandpa Leo as well. I'm really beginning to understand what type of a man he was. I'm still amazed by all he did. It's incredible. I know he's super proud of me going to Poland as well. I can just see him now, with an awful joke about Poles and a smile on his face. I hear you may be going out to the cabin soon? Make it a good trip. I miss that place so much. Be sure to take the boat out and take a spin around Vernon Bay for me. Mom, I'm feeling much better thank you. Your letters are not a distraction at all either. I love hearing about everything that's going on at home. Please, keep them coming. They're a big strength to my day.
I hope everyone is doing well! I've been watching a lot of the bible videos on lds.org on Sundays. Take a look at them! They're great.
I love you all. This gospel is true. I'm growing and learning so much. My testimony is being strengthened daily. I'm learning to teach with the power and authority of God like Ammon and his brethren did. Keep an eye out for the words power and authority in the scriptures. I've found them everywhere. It's really opening up my studying. Mom, every day that goes by, I'm more and more convinced you really are like one of the mothers of the stripling warriors. Not that I'm a stripling warrior, I've still got a long way to go before that, but I'm so grateful for the lessons on faith and the gospel that you and Dad have taught me. I'm trying to center all my learning around them.
I love you all! The Church is true! I'm working my hardest.
Starszy Vernon

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

MTC Letter #3

Hello Family!
Wow. What a week. There were some crazy happenings this week.
First off, I said goodbye to Elder Walters this last Monday. That was hard to say goodbye, but I know he will be a great missionary and he will be doing the Lord proud. He's awesome.
My companion and I are teaching two quasi-investigators. What I mean by this is they are our two Polish teachers posing as investigators they taught. The MTC is huge into role-play and it is a great way to help us learn to teach effectively. My companion and I (you're welcome Heather) are teaching with Sister Packard. This week we taught Ola about how to pray effectively and what type of answer she will get. This lesson was really cool, because we went into the lesson with a lesson plan, but didn't follow it at all. We went "off the cuff" and were able not only to understand all that she was saying, but we could respond to her questions and concerns in good Polish and teach her what she needed to hear! It was a huge blessing and a great testimony builder of the gift of tongues. Our other investigator, Paweł, is very interested in solving his problems and being freed from his sins. We explained to him that we can gain the fulness of the blessings from the atonement through baptism. We were even gutsy enough to ask him if he would be baptized, albeit after he prayed and got an answer that the Church is true. He said he liked the idea, but he would have to think about it. We are having a hard time getting him to recognize the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost is going to be our big focus the next lesson we teach him.
Hannah, how did your baptism go? Were you able to feel the Spirit? I'm so proud of you for being baptized. The Lord is very proud of you too. I know He loves you and is happy that you are choosing to follow his example. I think mom said she would tell me all about it in her letter today, so I am excited to read it and find out.
I wanted to say thanks for the packages family. I really appreciate them. It's fun to have a taste of home even here in the MTC.
The fourth of July here was incredible. It was a normal day all day, until 9 at night. We had a special program where an ex-judge from the Utah State Court came and talked to us about the opportunity the Gospel had to start in the United States. It was awesome. We then talked about Joseph Smith a little bit, then got to go watch the fireworks. It was a lot of fun, but it was a bit sad not to be with the family on the fourth of July. It's ok though, I know I'm doing the right thing.
Tuesday night we had a great devotional. Elder Kikuchi of the 70 spoke to us. He's an emeritus 70, but still has a very strong spirit about him. He did a nice hands on lesson with the missionaries. He had us all stand up. We then made an "O" with our arms, then a "Y," and finally an "M." He told us that we would now never forget, if all else fails, to Open Your Mouth. It was a funny exercise, but the lesson stuck. It's been a huge impact as well. Even if I don't know the Polish I need, I've found by opening my mouth and just going for it, things often turn out better than I had planned. It's amazing to see the Lord step in and help me do His work.
I'm a little bit sick. I've got a bit of a cold. Mom, they have hand sanitizer at every door and I've been sanitizing all the time, so don't worry, I'm going to be fine. My voice is gone, so my Polish is quite hoarse, but I'm still able to speak and teach.
Thursday night we had something called TRC (Teaching Resource Center) where we go and teach members in the language we are learning. The member we taught had been back from his mission for 13 days. Talk about getting in and helping the work go forth even after the mission. He was awesome. He said we were doing a great job. He brought a friend along with him who enters the MTC on August 22nd and is going to, you guessed it, Poland. He went to Timpanogos High School. Funny story time. When we played against Timpanogos my junior year in lacrosse, he was on their team. I actually injured him badly enough on a check that went sour that he had to sit out the rest of the game. I won't say what I did to him, but let's just say he has worn a cup to every game he's played in after that one. Well, the story came up after we taught, and we had a good laugh about it. He said there's no harm done, and he's excited to get out and serve.
This week, Elder Austin Waddoups and Elder Gavin Jones came into the MTC. I've had the chance to see both of them. I saw Elder Jones for the first time today. He's doing great. Elder Waddoups is actually in my zone here at the MTC. He's adjusting very well. I had a good chance to talk with him today during laundry. He's going to be an awesome missionary. 
Another funny story. Today my companion and I locked ourselves out of our room. We had to go all the way to the front desk to get a key to let ourselves back in. It wasn't too bad of a hassle, but it was still a bit annoying. Our room is for 4, but we haven't had roommates for two weeks. Our roommates when we first got here, Elder Hewitt (from England and yes, had a cool British accent) and Elder Smith (from Canada, we caught him saying eh? at the end of his sentences a few times), were shippped off to Canada right after we came in and we haven't had anyone else living with us since. It's been nice, but I think I'm ready to have someone move in. Hopefully we get new roommates on Wednesday!
Mom, to answer your question, I can pull up pictures on the email fairly easily, but I only have a half hour to do any emailing I need to each P-day. I would prefer to get pictures by mail. I'd love to see a bunch from Hannah's baptism, from tour, and of you and Emma now that you have your braces off! Please, send them my way.
I love you all and miss you a lot. I hope you had a lot of fun at the reunion and on the Fourth of July. Tell Grandma Fern I love her and miss her too, as well as Grandma Honey, Grandpa Ted, and Grandma Helen. How is Grandma Helen doing anyway?
I'll write another letter tonight after I get all your dear elders and send it by hand.
Mom, I found a scripture today I thought you'd like. John 16:22. Read it and tell me what you think. I think it goes well with the blessing I gave you.
Dad, thanks so much for the tips about studying. They're helping a ton. I'm looking forward to more.
I wish I had time to write more, but as with everything in the MTC, there's never enough time to do all I want to.
I love you! The Church is true!
Elder Vernon

Thursday, July 5, 2012

MTC Letter #2

Hello Family!
Thank you so much for the letters and for sending so many! I love it. It's such a comfort getting mail from family so often. Please, keep sending.
I will try to answer all the questions you have asked. I responded to a lot of them in the letter I sent home on paper. I hope you got that, along with Hannah's Birthday card.
Last night we had a devotional where Ted Gibbons spoke. He acted as if he was Willard Richards and recounted the last few months leading up to the Martyrdom of Joseph Smith. It was so cool. The Spirit was incredibly strong. Right after Joseph died, Willard Richards was asked by the jailer, "So, do you still believe old Joe Smith was a prophet?" Willard replied, "No. I don't believe it. I know it." At that point, when he said know, the Spirit hit me like a freight train. I have no doubt that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God and that he sealed his testimony in his own blood. After Ted Gibbons finished, we sang "Praise to the Man." As the song started, a few elders stood up, then a few more, until soon we were all standing in honor of Joseph Smith. I wish you could've seen it. 2500 Elders and Sisters standing, singing, bearing testimony that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God and that he was the one through whom Christ restored His church. Words can't describe the Spirit that was felt in that meeting.
Have I seen any general authorities? Heard from any? Get this. Tuesday night we had a devotional. 10 of the quorum of the 12 were seated on the stand. Yes, 10. The only ones missing were Elders Hales and Packer. The first presidency wasn't there either, but there were 10 apostles in the devotional. Elder L. Tom Perry spoke to us. He gave quite the talk. It wasn't what I was expecting at all. He spoke on the temporal blessings of being a member of the Church. He quoted a lot of statistics and gave us a lot of numbers that were really cool to hear. I have them all written down, but to save time, I'll hopefully send them to you later. As the apostles left, Elder Holland blew a kiss to all of us. What a cool moment that was. I wish so badly that I get the chance to hear from him while I am here. That would be so incredible.
Sunday night I took pictures with a bunch of my BYU friends in front of the map. It was really cool to see so many of us together. Mom, I'm trying to take a lot of pictures for you. I'm planning on sending my memory card home so you can pull the pictures off of it, then send it back to me. Would that work alright?
So, you want to hear some funny stories? I think I've got at least one that will make you laugh. One of the first days in Polish class, we found out the verb "to be" is być (yes, that's pronounced B--ch, like the swear word). Well, our teacher, Sister Stay, made us yell it at her to get over our fear of saying it. When I yelled it at her, she looked at me with this look that said, "What did you just call me?" I spluttered and said, "Don't do that to me!" The whole class laughed. Looking back now, I guess it was pretty funny. I can have a good laugh about it now.
Dad, that's really cool about Helaman 5. I'm going to have to read that chapter again to look for it. I'm finding the words power and authority everywhere in Preach My Gospel. It talks about teaching with them all the time. It's been awesome to recognize that I need to teach with the priesthood. I've found them in the scriptures everywhere as well. I don't know why that's something I've never noticed before, but it's something I'm watching for now.
Yesterday, in Leadership Training, the 1st counselor in our Branch Presidency told a cool story. He talked about when his son was on his mission. His son had called home for Mother's Day, and he asked his son if he was going to extend his mission, since he was supposed to come home in about a month. He said, "Dad, I can't. For two years I've given everything I have to the Lord. I've got nothing left." That statement hit me so hard. I want that so bad. I can't explain with words how strong the Spirit told me that's what I need to do.
Another somewhat humorous story. Here at the MTC, they have towers of cereal. There is a legend called the "tower challenge." This challenge is to eat a whole tower of cereal as a district. So, this morning, we attempted to do it. We were 3/4 of the way done and going strong when a worker came up to us and told us to stop. We asked him why, and he told us that the last time the head chef caught a group of elders doing the tower challenge, he cut off their food for 24 hours. Seeing as we fasted yesterday, all of us wanted our food, so we stopped. There's no doubt in my mind we could have completed it easily though. It was a piece of cake.
Elder Walters leaves tomorrow. I still need to get a picture with him. It's been so awesome being able to see him on a regular basis. I see him every day. I see Hall-Choro (elder Hall) all the time as well. Elder Pockrus is another common sighting, and I even saw Elder Cache Thompson today. He barely came in last week. It's so cool to see everyone out here serving the Lord. It's a remarkable thing. This Gospel is amazing. It changes lives. I have no doubt that it is true. I know it with all my heart and my testimony is growing day by day.
I love you all and miss you. Hannah, let me know how your baptism goes! The church is true.
With love,
Starszy Vernon
P.S. Mom, can you tell Pam thank you for the cookies? They were wonderful. The district loved them.